Friday, March 15, 2013
A Reflection on Our Final Goodbyes
After having been back in the states for several days now and getting back into the groove of things and finishing up my last days of college, I have been thinking a lot back to our final goodbyes with those in the Vytegra community. I am recollecting how we were inundated with hugs, handshakes and smiles from our friends from school no. 2 and our program partners. I found it incredible that such a strong bond could have been made with people who hardly speak the same language as us, and I know from this experience that love and friendship truly have no boundaries. I found these lengthened goodbyes so heartfelt and genuine, and it made me sad that people don’t behave that way in the United States when saying their final goodbyes to others without it being superficial. I could see just from how long they took to part from us how much our presence means to them. I can tell our visit to Vytegra is that one disruption a year in their tiny, provincial town life that they must look forward to very much.
What I am looking most forward to now is keeping in touch with my new Russian friends, and perhaps even getting their addresses so I can send them letters (I have always thought that writing letters was a much more, traditional, old-fashioned, and more meaningful means of communication than simply email or using social media). I have already begun to talk to some of my new friends, and perhaps now I have a bit more time to get to know their desires, their opinions, and their plans after high school to understand what they want out of life. I think what I’ll come to find is my new Russian friends will most likely want what I want: a stable future, a close group of friends that can be trusted and confided in, and a place that feels like home. I am so happy that I was able to connect with this group of people, and I can say that I have become even more motivated to learn Russian so that I can communicate with them even further. I think my realizing that my Russian friends and I most likely want the same things out of life holds a very important implication: no matter how interconnected the world becomes, no matter how much Russia advances or becomes modernized, and no matter how quickly the Russian Heartland might wither away one day …the people that I met are always going to want the same things. And at that, those things are always simple things. Not fancy cars, flashy clothes or Ipads. Not anything material. Despite their community being so underfunded, they never once asked us for anything, in fact they showered US with gifts. All they wanted from us is friendship and good memories to last them, which is exactly what I think they received. And it’s what I wanted and received as well.